Mtel R5: Kramnik and Ponomariov win

5/16/2005 – In spite of an innovative anti-draw rule the results in Sofia were far from encouraging. In the first four rounds 83% pf the games were undecided. Today, in round five, the world champions Vladimir Kramnik and Ruslan Ponomariov drew blood, bringing the average down to 73%. Flash report.

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Super GM Tournament
in Sofia

Six of the world's top players
clash in the M-Tel Masters

May 11 to 22, 2005
in the Grand Hotel Sofia, Bulgaria

The Mtel Masters Super Tournament is under way. It is a category 20 event with an Elo average of 2744. The time controls are classic (up to seven hours per game) and the tournament is a double round robin (every player plays every other player twice). There is a special rule in place at this Super Tournament: draw offers are not allowed, i.e. draws by mutual agreement between the players are forbidden, only technical draws may be given by the arbiter.

In the first four rounds of the Mtel Tournament in Sofia we saw two out of twelve games decided, which gave us a drawing average of 83%. That was devastating for an event which had special rules to prevent draws. Actually just unfought, quick, I-don't-feel-like-playing draws, but the result should not have been a particularly high percentage of normal or well fought out draws.

Today the tables turned somewhat with two decided games, bringing the total to four decided games out of fifteen, or 73% draws. Still high, but giving cause for optimism. And guess who is the player contributing most to improving the optics of the event? Vladimir Kramnik, who has recently been brandmarked as a draw king. In Sofia Vladimir has produced three decided games and only two draws. If he keeps this up we are going to have to find another dog to beat.

Kramnik vs Polgar: after his loss to Michael Adams on Friday Kramnik went after Judit Polgar with a vengeance, picking up the a7-pawn, which the lady had left unprotected for many moves. With this one-pawn advantage, Kramnik ground her down in a rook and knight ending which went on until move 62.

Anand vs Adams: In a Symmetrical English Anand looked as though he would be doing his usual thing – taking the proverbial Mickey out of his opponent. But Adams held firm and the game ended in a draw after 54 moves.

Anand,V (2785) - Adams,Mi (2737) [A30]
Mtel Masters Sofia BUL (5), 16.05.2005
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.g3 b6 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.0-0 Be7 7.d4 cxd4 8.Qxd4 d6 9.Bg5 a6 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.Qf4 0-0 12.Rfd1 Be7 13.Ne4 Bxe4 14.Qxe4 Ra7 15.Nd4 Qc8 16.b3 Bf6 17.e3 Rd8 18.Qg4 g6 19.Rd2 h5 20.Qe2 Bg7 21.Rad1 Qc5 22.h4 Rad7 23.Bh3 Re7 24.Qf3 Ree8 25.Qe4 d5

Watch how Anand ends up a pawn up, but returns it a few moves later: 26.Nxe6 dxe4 27.Rxd8 Qe7 28.Rxe8+ Qxe8 29.Rd8 Qxd8 30.Nxd8 Bf6 31.Nb7 Be7 32.c5 Bxc5 33.Nxc5 bxc5 34.Bc8 Kg7 35.Bb7 f5 36.f3 exf3 37.Kf2 a5 38.Kxf3 Nd7 39.e4 Ne5+ 40.Ke3 c4 41.exf5 cxb3 42.axb3 gxf5 43.Ba6 Ng6 44.Be2 Kh6 45.Kd4 f4 46.gxf4 Nxf4 47.Bf3 Ng6 48.Kc5 Nxh4 49.Bxh5 Kxh5 50.Kb5 Nf5 51.Kxa5 Nd4 52.b4 Nc6+ 53.Ka4 Nxb4 54.Kxb4 ½-½.

In this position the players convinced the arbiter that there was no point in continuing, an opinion with which the official, after careful consideration, was forced to accept. This is the second game in a row in which Vishy Anand has gone to bare kings (yesterday against Judit Polgar they ended with kings on a4 and a6.

The game of the day was Ponomariov vs Topalov. Bulgaria's top GM and local hero was typically uncompromising in his black game, trying hard to find complications that might unnerve his younger opponent. But ex world champion Ruslan Ponomariov kept his cool, penetrated with both rooks on Topalov's back rank and then finished him off with a nice combination.

Ponomariov,R (2695) - Topalov,V (2778) [E10]
Mtel Masters Sofia BUL (5), 16.05.2005
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Bg2 0-0 7.0-0 c6 8.Bf4 b6 9.Nc3 Ba6 10.cxd5 cxd5 11.Rc1 Nc6 12.Nxd5 Qxd5 13.Ne5 Nxd4 14.Bxd5 Nxe2+ 15.Qxe2 Bxe2 16.Bxa8 Rxa8 17.Rfe1 Bb5 18.Rc2 Nd5 19.Rec1 Bc5 20.Bd2 f6 21.b4 Bf8 22.Ng4 Rd8 23.Rc8 Rd7 24.Nh6+ gxh6 25.Bxh6 Rf7 26.Rd8 Ne7 27.Rc7 Ng6 28.Rcc8 e5 29.f4 Bd7 30.Ra8 Bh3 31.Kf2 b5 32.Rdb8 exf4 33.gxf4 Bd7

34.h4 Bc6 35.h5 Bxa8 36.hxg6 hxg6 37.Rxa8 f5 38.Kg3 a6 39.Kh4 Rg7 40.Kg5 1-0.

Round 5 (Monday, May 16, 2005)
Ruslan Ponomariov
1-0
Veselin Topalov
Vladimir Kramnik
1-0
Judit Polgar
Viswanathan Anand
½-½
Michael Adams
Games – Report

Standings after the first half of the tournament

More analysis to follow, and pictures, if we get any from Sofia. The rules regarding photography, we are told, are almost as strict as the ones concerning draws.

Schedule and results

Round 1 (Thursday, May 12, 2005)
Vladimir Kramnik
1-0
Ruslan Ponomariov
Viswanathan Anand
½-½
Veselin Topalov
Michael Adams
½-½
Judit Polgar
GamesReport
Round 2 (Friday, May 13, 2005)
Ruslan Ponomariov
½-½
Judit Polgar
Veselin Topalov
½-½
Michael Adams
Vladimir Kramnik
½-½
Viswanathan Anand
Games Report
Round 3 (Saturday, May 14, 2005)
Viswanathan Anand
½-½
Ruslan Ponomariov
Michael Adams
1-0
Vladimir Kramnik
Judit Polgar
½-½
Veselin Topalov
GamesReport
Round 4 (Sunday, May 15, 2005)
Michael Adams
½-½
Ruslan Ponomariov
Judit Polgar
½-½
Viswanathan Anand
Veselin Topalov
½-½
Vladimir Kramnik
GamesReport
Round 5 (Monday, May 16, 2005)
Ruslan Ponomariov
1-0
Veselin Topalov
Vladimir Kramnik
1-0
Judit Polgar
Viswanathan Anand
½-½
Michael Adams
GamesReport
Round 6 (Wednesday, May 18, 2005)
Ruslan Ponomariov
-
Vladimir Kramnik
Veselin Topalov
-
Viswanathan Anand
Judit Polgar
-
Michael Adams
Games – Report
Round 7 (Thursday, May 19, 2005)
Judit Polgar
-
Ruslan Ponomariov
Michael Adams
-
Veselin Topalov
Viswanathan Anand
-
Vladimir Kramnik
Games – Report
Round 8 (Friday, May 20, 2005)
Ruslan Ponomariov
-
Viswanathan Anand
Vladimir Kramnik
-
Michael Adams
Veselin Topalov
-
Judit Polgar
Games – Report
Round 9 (Saturday, May 21, 2005)
Veselin Topalov
-
Ruslan Ponomariov
Judit Polgar
-
Vladimir Kramnik
Michael Adams
-
Viswanathan Anand
Games – Report
Round 10 (Sunday, May 22, 2005)
Ruslan Ponomariov
-
Michael Adams
Viswanathan Anand
-
Judit Polgar
Vladimir Kramnik
-
Veselin Topalov
Games – Report

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